Be Careful with Good Faith Payments

Businessman handing someone money

Sometimes doing the expedient thing and what looks good at the time can come back to bite you.

February 24, 2020
Christopher G. Hill - Construction Law Musings

Sometimes doing the expedient thing and what looks good at the time can come back to bite you. Just ask 3M Company.

In Faneuil, Inc. v. 3M Co., the Virginia Supreme Court considered a customer services subcontract between Faneuil and 3M relating to a toll collection contract 3M entered into with ERC. The subcontract had a “pay if paid” clause in it requiring payment to 3M from ERC before ERC was required to pay Faneuil, a written change order provision and a base monthly payment to Faneuil for the services that could be reduced in the event of less than expected toll collections. Further, the subcontract stated that if either party settled 3rd party claims, that settlement would not bind the other party to the subcontract absent consent or Court order.

Faneuil was then alleged to have been required to provide “Special Services” relating to manual identification of license plates and other information necessary for toll billing due to 3M’s alleged failure to provide adequate imaging services. Faneuil requested (without written change order) and 3M promised to pay extra for these services. When 3M was slow to pay for the special services, Faneuil did what you would expect and threatened to stop providing them. Instead of contesting the right to the work, 3m made sporadic “good faith” payments to induce continued Special Services from Faneuil. Eventually 3M’s issues caused ERC to stop payments and thus 3M stopped paying Faneuil. 3M then settled the payment claims with ERC and still failed to pay Faneuil.

Mr. Hill may be contacted at chrisghill@constructionlawva.com



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